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Important ESL Phrases & Keywords You Should Know

We know it can be daunting not knowing what some of the day-to-day lingo of the industry is, but not to worry: we’re here to help! Below you’ll find a glossary of commonly used terms that will help you navigate the world of ESL.


When an institute has official approval from a reliable body; some TEFL courses/certificates are accredited.

Authentic task

A task whereby language is practiced in a way that is similar to the real world (role-playing).

Authentic text or material

Texts are taken from the real world and not adapted for learning purposes, e.g. newspaper.


The lowest level of English learner; a learner that may have had little to no previous exposure to the language.


English for Academic Purposes; preparation for learners who are entering English secondary and post-secondary schools.


Often used interchangeably; English as a Second Language refers to teaching in countries such as the USA where English is the native language; English as a Foreign Language refers to teaching in countries such as Thailand where English is not the native language.


This is a teaching technique for drawing out information from learners rather than simply providing all the information.

Freelance platform

This is where you have the opportunity to market yourself and set your own pay rate. You are responsible for opening up a schedule that suits you- scheduling.

Fixed schedule

You sign up with a company and are required to open up slots at unchanging times. You receive a base salary and possible bonuses when working for these companies.


International English Language Testing Service: A standardised exam that measures the four main language skills.

International English (also “Global or World English”)

Used in reference to English being named a global language of communication.

Rate of acquisition

How quickly the learner acquires the second language.


Objects from the real world that learners can use while practicing the language to make a classroom feel more like a real-life setting.

Recruiting Agency (also called “placement agency”)

A business that acts as a middle man between the teacher and the school; i.e. schools pay recruiters to find teachers.


Student Talking Time: the amount of time during class when learners get to do the talking- increase as far as possible.

Teacher Talking Time: the amount of time during class when teachers get to do the talking- limit as far as possible.


An outline of the subjects in a course or program.


The testing of English as a Foreign Language; a standardised exam that tests the four main language skills and may be used as an entrance prerequisite for tertiary education in the USA.


Test of English for International Communication; a standardised exam that tests a person’s ability to use English in business and everyday situations.

Total physical response

Part of the Communicative Approach; learners are encouraged to respond with actions before words.

Now that you know what these terms mean let us know if you’d like to learn more about the ESL industry, we’d love to hear from you.

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